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Norville's departure and the rise of perk
With angry viewers defecting to ABC's "Good Morning America" and ratings sinking, Deborah Norville's role on "Today" was steadily diminished until she went on maternity leave in February 1991. In her absence, national political correspondent Katie Couric was named temporary co-host. Ratings began to rise again when viewers responded favorably to Couric's sunshiny persona. Midway through her pregnancy leave, in April 1991, NBC announced that Norville would not be returning to "Today." She went on to replace Bill O'Reilly as host of the syndicated news show "Inside Edition."